Sixty-eight years since becoming the first country in the world to abolish its army, Costa Rica is still receiving honors for this historic milestone. An official document titled Registro de Abolición del Ejército (the Abolition of the Army) will be sent from the country’s national archives to United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization or UNESCO, as it is more commonly known.
Unesco’s Memory of the World program protects documents of historical importance that reflect the culture of different peoples around the world.
One of the reason retirees choose to move to Costa Rica is because José Figueres Ferrer formerly did away with the country’s military in on December 1, 1948.
Figueres or Don Pepe, as many Costa Ricans affectionately refer to him, is often referred to as the George Washington of Costa Rica for accomplishing this historic feat. In honor of don Pepe there is a statue in San José’s Plaza de la Democracia located next to country’s National Museum. The later was a fortress at one time and bullet holes are still visible in one of it’s turrets.
Don Pepe’s statue is very detailed right down to the high-healed elevator shoes that he used to make himself look taller. Because of his attempt to compensate for his short stature, many made fun of him and gave him the nickname “tacones (heels in Spanish).”
In a symbolic act to celebrate the abolition of the country’s armed forces, don Pepe used a sledge hammer (mazo in Spanish) to break down the wall of the Bellavista Cuartel (military barracks). Few know that he sent a crew of workmen the day before to weaken the structure in order to make make sure that it would collapse like it was suppose to. Indeed, it was a theatrical performance by the old boy!